FC Flora travel to Kalev this Friday looking to extend their winning run to 7 matches, and their unbeaten run to 15. Their 1-0 win over Sillamae earlier this week cemented their place at the top of the table, and they will be looking to take advantage of any hangover second-placed Levadia have following their 7-0 drubbing at Sparta Prague in the ECL earlier this week.
Kalev lost their second match in a row last weekend, and their third in five games, as they were thrashed 5-0 by Infonet at Sportland Arena. They were fortunate, however, in that Narva and Tammeka both lost their matches, with Paide and Johvi taking just one apiece from their match up. Kalev have also lost their last seven away games straight.
FOCUS ON KALEV (9/10, 12pts)
Kalev’s line-up against Infonet was eyebrow-raising, as Lasha Omanidze, Gregor Aru, Aleksei Naariste and Hans-Kristjan Hansberg were all omitted without clear reason. Their inclusion this weekend is therefore also in doubt, with Oliver Heliste in line to continue on the left of the attack, Nikita Koger in the centre, and Raiko Karpov on the right. Ian-Erik Valge could continue just behind Koger to complete the attacking section of Kalev’s 4-3-2-1 formation.
Daniil Savitski was also left out of last week’s squad, and he could continue to be replaced by Artjom Lavizi. Ionel Armean and Sean Tremaine Whalen should continue in central midfield as expected, but Ranon Kriisa is suspended following his dismissal in injury time, 12 minutes after coming on as a substitute in the match against Infonet.
Should Omanidze return to the squad, he may have to tread on egg shells as he is one booking away from suspension, so too is Armean.
Key man: Ionel Armean
With uncertainty hanging over a number of Kalev players, Armean's role in defensive midfield is absolutely crucial. Flora will stretch him and Whalen to breaking point, and he may have his work cut out unless he can put in a commanding performance.
FOCUS ON FLORA (1/10, 46pts)
Flora began their match with Sillamae using arguably their strongest line-up, but they may use the trip to Kalev to rotate their squad a little. This is less important for Flora than for the rest of the title-chasing pack, as they do not have the added pressure of European competition.
Kevin Aloe and Andre Frolov will miss out through injury, so Markus Jurgenson will continue at left back with Nikita Baranov on the right, though both are one booking away from suspension. Brent Lepistu should start in the centre of midfield alongside Karl-Eerik Luigend, with Taavi Rahn and Karol Mets in the centre of defence, although the latter two are also one booking away from suspension.
Rauno Alliku could retain his place in attack following his goalscoring exploits against Sillamae, and Sander Post could come back in up front. Maksim Gussev is a booking away from suspension, but could be given game time ahead of Logua or Beglarishvili.
Key man: Zakaria Beglarishvili
If the Georgian attackers start in the central attacking midfield position, he will be key to taking apart the Kalev defence. The wingers either side of him will distract the Kalev midfield, leaving Beglarishvili to charge through the centre.
Identical formations mean a focus on individual battles, but it’s difficult to see past the strength of Flora. Their wide players like to drift inside, which will overload Kalev in front of their defence. The hosts need to make the most of any wide space they are given, but the defensive midfield duo for Flora are capable of neutralising any threat.
TALLINNA KALEV vs. FC FLORA HEAD-TO-HEAD
(last 6 Premium Liiga Matches via WhoScored.com)
Kalev's wins: 0
Flora’s wins: 5
Goals scored by Kalev: 6
Goals scored by Flora: 23
Most prolific Premium Liiga scorer(s) in Kalev's rows: Aleksei Belov (CF) 8 goals
Most prolific Premium Liiga scorer(s) in Flora's rows: Albert Prosa (CF) 76 goals
ODDS (the figures may be subject to variation)
More odds about this game by
BETTING TIP (by Angelo Palmeri)
By now, if you follow our weekly tips, we shall know that Kalev are the worse defence of the Premium Liiga. Just to update the count, with the 5 goals suffered at Infonet, they have reached the total amount of 74 goals let in. A goal difference of -57, the worse of the league. Kalev will very probably break the 100 goals suffered limit and Flora can help in achieving this negative record. Go confidently for the Over 3,5 offered by Optibet at 1.42
Tip: Over 3,5
Odd: 1.42 (odd might be subject to variation)
THE REFEREES SQUAD
(statistics courtesy of Heigo Niilop)
Toomas Nõmmiste is the match director for this head-bottom clash.
26 games in Premium Liiga, he has shown 86 yellow cards (3,3 per game) and has shown five straight red cards. Two red cards were given for double booking. His job will be assisted by Raul Kaivoja and Marger Pormann with Urmo Visnapuu overlooking from the touchline.
INFO ABOUT THE GAME
Kick-off at 19:00 EEST in Kalev Central Stadium on the 18th of July.
4€ the entrance fee, discounted categories 2€ and Facebook event 'Going'